Why Stash Reduction is a Mystical Concept

In every weaver’s life, the time comes when yarn accumulation must stop, at least temporarily. Either financial, space, or spousal limits occasionally demand that, “No more yarn must enter this house/studio until you use up what you already have.” (I can hear the collective, audible sigh of “Yes, but…”)

Karen's Yarn Stash
Karen's impressive yarn stash.  

We all agree with this concept in theory, and yet when heading to our stashes – no matter their size – to find yarn for the next project, invariably we discover we’re missing just the right fiber, in just the right size, in just the right color. Even if we find something that meets all those criteria, we don’t have enough of it.


So off we go to our favorite LYS or online catalogs to buy more yarn. While we’re at it, we might as well get a couple extra cones either to qualify for the discount or justify the shipping costs. And, really, are we to blame when something that feels to-die-for jumps into our hands while we were making a beeline to the check-out counter? Now throw in a fiber festival or two, the vendor hall at a conference, guild exchange, email weaving sales group or studio liquidation, and we’re once again sneaking yarn into the house in the bottom of the grocery bags.


  Syne Mitchell's Stash Busting Scarf
  If your stash needs busting, try
Syne Mitchell's "Stash Busting Scarf"
from the November/December 2009
issue of Handwoven

I sometimes envy those weavers who have narrowed their focus to only one or two types of yarn and can stock their shelves with all the colors they could ever want. I also wonder about those weavers who only buy white yarn and then dye all the colors they need. Surely they have a handle on this mystical thing called stash reduction.

Recently my own yarn stash grew dramatically. A dear weaving friend died, and knowing her penchant for quality yarn, I asked friends who were sorting the collection to set aside for me all the cotton, cottolin, linen or silk they found. They warned me it was a lot, but until I hauled all the boxes and garbage bags up to my studio and started trying to fit the contents onto my yarn shelves, I really had no idea.


The photo doesn’t show the four boxes of beautiful yarn still on the floor. Either I make myself start weaving with this stuff, or I am going to have to break through the studio wall into the vacant adjoining townhouse. Unfortunately my husband already put the kibosh on taking out another mortgage for yarn storage.

So I’ve decided to give myself a new weaving challenge. Weaving teachers have often told me that creative types are often the most innovative when forced to work within limits. Design theory has taught me inspiration can begin with any of the design elements. For weavers, that process can start with the yarn on hand.

Perhaps I’ll throw a dart at the yarn shelves and see where it sticks. Or maybe I’ll spin around in circles and see where my hand falls. Maybe I’ll let my dog choose. By whatever method the yarn makes it off the shelf or out of the box, that cone will be the starting point for my next project. And this one time, anything I need to use with it must also come from my stash. I don’t know what I’ll make yet, but it must challenge the expected.
In fact, stash reduction could be the theme for the Sutherland Weavers’ Study Group for next year. I think I’ll propose that at the next meeting. Because, after all, the best thing about stash reduction is making room for new yarn!


– Karen Donde

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